PDCA - One Blog

Welcome to the first Dexter cattle blog to disseminate information for members of the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America (PDCA) and for those with a curiosity about Irish Dexter cattle, cattle in general, as well as news from the PDCA. Expressions of opinion are to not be regarded as expressing the official opinion of the PDCA unless expressly stated. Hopefully you will find something here of interest and don't overlook browsing through the archives. Comments are welcomed.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

City farms

U.K. -
Social inclusion: Down on the farm

'City farms provide a unique learning environment for urban young people to develop practical skills. Tim Burke mucks in to see what the fuss is about.

The boy can't be more than 12 years old. He looks a bit shy, but then he sees me cautiously eyeing up a goat. "Would you like to feed it?" he says encouragingly. "Here's some food - don't worry, just put your hand out like this. That's right - can you feel his tongue?"

That's the kind of magic that happens on a city farm. They offer access not just to cute fluffy animals but to a safe and dynamic learning environment that can be mightily effective in developing young people's self-confidence and social and communication skills.

The above encounter took place at Gorse Hill City Farm in Leicester, one of 48 city farms in the UK. Along with hundreds of smaller community gardens, they employ the equivalent of about 500 full-time staff and have about 15,000 volunteers.

Sarah Crookall, education officer at Gorse Hill, stresses that all kinds of young people are keen to volunteer at the farm but agrees there can be a remarkable impact on some of the more hard-to-reach young people.

"Animals bring out the best in people and the kids naturally want to help them," she explains. "We find that young people who show no emotion for anyone else want to care for animals, and in the long run they can transfer some of that back into the rest of their lives." She adds: "It helps them socially and at school. I've seen kids who have never done homework or writing at all and after a week here have gone in with an essay about what they did."


Leicester's Gorse Hill City Farm is located near to disadvantaged areas such as Beaumont Leys, where unemployment, lone-parent families and poverty are all 50 per cent higher than the city average. The farm very much fits the bill of a safe haven. It offers local people plots in the community garden and access to a range of animals including dexter cows, rabbits and guinea pigs, ornamental fowl including cochins and silkies and a selection of rare-breed pigs, sheep and cattle for a breeding programme.'

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Create A Winner

One of the wonderful things about the PDCA is the emphasis on educating and breeders helping one another. Over the weekend a member had a question about a problem he was having when tying up his bull. From working with various cattle associations I remembered a good link for halter training from the Limousin association and so I was happy when I heard back that this helped him discover the problem which was the chin strap. So his Dexter bull is now the perfect gentleman when tied thanks to the article and the breeder's own ingenuity.

In the future, with a membership working together like they are now, as well as working with other legitimate cattle associations, Dexters of PDCA breeders will create a winner.

I hope this will also be of some help to other PDCA members, perhaps getting their Dexters ready for the PDCA Show this July in beautiful northern California.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Dex-Info now has some of the early Dexter cow entries from the 1890 Kerry & Dexter Herdbook which includes Lily II, described as white, with very little red. This brings to mind the following abstract regarding white in Jersey cattle from 2000:

A possible dominant white gene in Jersey cattle

Chris A. Morris (a) and D. Phillip Sponenberg (b)

'A white heifer ("Snow") was born in 1991 from coloured registered Jersey parents. She produced six calves sired by coloured Jersey bulls: three white bull calves, two white heifer calves, and one coloured bull calf. One of the white bull calves was mated with 40 Hereford Friesian yearling heifers (white face, predominantly black body with some white patches). The 38 resulting calves included 16 white and 22 coloured calves. Twelve of the 16 white calves were heifers and four were bulls. Red or black spotting was recorded on some white calves. The results are consistent with an autosomal dominant mutant causing the white phenotype. The mutation appears to have arisen spontaneously in Snow, then passing to her white progeny and white grand-progeny. The white individuals varied from entirely white in a few cases, to most having some residual small areas of red or black pigmentation in patterns not typical of other reported white spotting patterns of cattle.'

(a) AgResearch, Ruakura Agricultural Research Centre, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand
(b) Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA

Monday, March 28, 2005

Seller's Responsibility

A PDCA State Representative brought up an issue that is sometimes a problem with breed associations. If you research various cattle associations you'll find that this issue is a standard requirement with most legitimate associations and for good reason. So the PDCA wants this to be clear to both buyers and sellers of Dexter cattle:

It is the seller's duty to apply for the transfers and to pay the transfer fee.

While I'm sure there may have been some fence sitters that joined, most of the members of the PDCA are some of the best and most responsible breeders of Dexter cattle and so I'm sure are proud enough of their breeding programs that they already do this for the buyers of their cattle.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 26, 2005


...with Dexter oxen. Drew Conroy, of the University of New Hampshire, giving an ox-training session.

Photo by Kathy Smith.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Swiss Dexters

Switzerland Dexter Club

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Three "P's"

Breed associations have three main breed functions, protecting, promoting, and proving.


The prime function of a breed association is in protecting the breed which is done through an accurate and reliable registry. As breeders we all may make mistakes and no registry is infallible but the first line of defense in protecting a breed is the breed's registrar whose responsibility it is to carefully check all paperwork. The number of registrations will ebb and flow but varies too much to employ a trained staff for when there's a bunch of papers that come in all at once. This, along with saving expense, is why some breeds have combined their registration offices. An untrained registrar can return papers quickly if they haven't taken the time to correct mistakes but this ends up corrupting the registry and makes some papers worthless. The PDCA is fortunate to not only have paperwork processed in a reasonable time but also that we have a registrar whose experience and attention to details eliminates a great many human errors. Knowledge of the various lines within a breed is important in being able to recognize those animals that may be questionable.

All breeds began from a selection of "like" animals with some good and some perhaps not so good ones. Breeders set guidelines for certain characteristics and these characteristics along with future pedigrees became the basis for the breed. Although there were allowances for other characteristics, for the most part, with Dexter cattle, small, black and horned became the favored characteristics and would now be what might be referred to as the traditional Dexter. More variations would have existed earlier on before the advent of registering. I imagine the job as registrar would be easier back when most cattle fit the traditional description although I'm sure that the genetic differences between short and long may have caused some concerns. Breeders will generally follow marketing trends which may or may not be good for a breed. In recent times, dun, red and polled Dexters have become more popular. When you increase the variations you change the breed's identity somewhat but since these all evolved from a few lines, an experienced and knowledgeable registrar can usually track and verify that these characteristics came from a certain pedigree.

Historically, breeders of most cattle breeds in the U.S. believed in protecting the "purity" by not upgrading but ironically they sought out the magic of imports in order to improve their breeds. Some of these would have been upgraded as European breeders were more progressive in improving a breed's production traits. In the case of Dexters, some upgrading was used in countries where it was necessary for the conservation of the breed because their numbers were dangerously low. New Zealand Rare Breeds has a good explanation of how a grading up program works there. In some cases a grade animal may conform more to the breed standards than an animal without any grading. So there is a difference between a conservationist and a preservationist, as a conservationist will work to expand the genetic pool while keeping to a breed's original traits in order to avoid possible extinction whereas a preservationist will seek lines that remain pure as possible. The work of both is important to the breed and is praiseworthy. Accurate records are important for both conservation and preservation of a breed. A breed association will sometimes close its registry in order to protect it from other registries that may have become corrupted but this might also limit the genetic pool. Currently, the PDCA can require a parental DNA test on any questionable animals to be registered.


Breed associations can and should promote their breed through national advertisements, exhibits and shows, as well as through regional events. Breeds are sometimes guilty of using too many superlatives and so honesty is usually always the best policy. Becoming a popular breed is not always good because when anything sells, usually "anything" does. So steady as you go is usually more beneficial to the conservation of a breed in the long run than a boom and bust marketing approach.


It does no good to protect and promote without proving a breed's merit. As in the beginnings of a breed, you have both good and bad animals and so breeders and breed associations must ascertain the inherited differences and make the facts available to all. Classification would be one example of a mechanism to prove merit but there are other means to sort out the genetic differences in efficiency as well. Studies are showing that small hardy cattle are more efficient and so the more information we gather and make available to breeders the more good animals will exist within the breed's population.

Senior PDCA member, Jim Johnson, perhaps summed up our diversity as a breed and as breeders the best with the phrase:

"Dexter cattle, a breed from the past, for the present and the future."

Monday, March 21, 2005


Four week old 2005 Dexter calves' first day of spring.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Old Irish News

A couple of odd cow news stories from the past:

From The Cork Examiner, 3 August 1878 -

ACCIDENT.--A man named Daniel Cronin, who resides at
Watergrasshill, was, yesterday, driving two cows into the city, when
a serious accident occurred to him. He had tied the two cows
together with a chain, in order that they might not run away in
different directions. One of the cows commenced to drag the other.
Cronin went to the assistance of the dragged cow, and she crushed
him against a wall and broke one of his legs. He is progressing


Last Tuesday, late at night was stolen out of the
lands of Ballina near Killaloe, one red incalf Cow,
the property of Patrick Cleary of Ballyna [sic]
aforesaid ; whoever discovers the Thief, upon
conviction shall be paid one Guinea by Michael
Gavan of Mungret-street. N.B. the right Ear of
said Cow was cut off.

-- The Limerick Chronicle, 5 July 1770


Friday, March 18, 2005

Irish Cow

This Irish Cow created by artist Terry Donsen Feder offers the following toast: "Good times... Good friends... Good health to you. And the luck of the Irish in all you do."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May the horns of your cattle always touch heather.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bovine Health

If anyone would like information on any Dexter health related topic, the summer 2005 issue of the PDCA Record will be utilizing some veterinarian resources to help answer any questions that members might have. Also, if you would like to share with others your cattle health and maintenance experiences your contribution would be useful and welcomed. Send your questions and/or experiences to:

Patrice Lewis, Editor

1305 Canyon Ridge Lane
Plummer, ID 83851
(208) 686-0627

Holy Cow

Phnom Penh - Officials and religious leaders are disputing claims by a Cambodian man that his cow is possessed by a magic healing spirit that emigrated from Thailand.

The animal's owner, Kim Chan, 40, of Kampong Trach district in the southern province of Kampot, claimed on Monday that excrement and urine from his cow could miraculously cure diseases since it became possessed by a heavenly entity last week.

The man said he had been visited by a woman on a bicycle who fell down and wept when she saw the cow, claiming to recognise in its eyes a spirit that had until recently possessed a cow in Thailand.

Local authorities were quick to dismiss the bovine, which has become known as Preah Kou, or Holy Cow, as an ordinary animal and warned people not to trust in any healing powers its owner claims it possesses.

"We had a holy cow here a year-and-a-half ago. You don't get two that close together. I think it's just not true," Kampong Trach deputy district governor Khun Somnang said on Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Steer-A-Year Program

Project Coordinator Trevor Hamilton, introduces PDCA members to the beef studies of various breeds including Dexter cattle at Olds College in the current issue of the Record. This is the current link to the project - http://say.oldscollege.ab.ca/

Past years' final reports from 1998 to Spring 2004 can be found here:

Also, be sure to check out the Dexter cattle slide presentation here:

Monday, March 14, 2005

A nice message from Beryl Rutherford in England

I was pleased to read the following letter in this issue of the PDCA Record. For those new to Dexter cattle, John Patterson has a lot of information about Beryl Rutherford and the Woodmagic herd on the Dex-Info web site.

Dear Editor,

I was delighted to receive 'The Record', and to find amongst the membership so many familiar names. Despite an attempt to read between the lines, I am little the wiser, I am,of course, sad to learn of the upset, but I know that amongst those I am happy to call my friends, there is a very strong devotion to the little Dexter that I love. In particular, I know that Rosemary has spent years promoting and working for the breed, and has to take a lot of the credit for the success of the ADCA. At the moment she appears to be working harder than ever. I am, therefore, wishing the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association every success in the future. I was particularly cheered by the note on page 28 - 'The PDCA was formed to provide an opportunity, not a protest'.

I congratulate you on the presentation of your first magazine, and I hope your members help you out with plenty of contributions.

As somebody who has for years advocated breeding out the bulldog gene, can I say to Donna Martin, that although none of my cattle have carried the recessive for over 30 years, they are still the same mischievous intelligent little characters they always were, and I promise removing the bulldog gene will not detract from that one iota. Neither do they need to be very different in looks, by selection one can bred for the shorter leg, as Julie Cavanagh confirmed, my 'Woodmagic' are mostly in the range of 38" - 40".

Wishing you the best of luck, and looking forward to the next issue.

Beryl Rutherford

Thursday, March 10, 2005

"The Best"

When I was editor I checked out most of the other cattle association's breed publications and even consulted with some of the larger breed editors that had their own offices within their association. So my experience has left me being perhaps more analytical and jaundiced in viewing the content and formats of various breed publications but with having some basis in fact. I've read most of the Dexter breed publications in the world and it pleases me that I can honestly say that some of our Dexter publications are as good and in some cases better than perhaps some of the bigger and more high dollar cattle association publications. With the current edition of the PDCA Record having now arrived I would place the PDCA Record as now being one of the top three Dexter cattle publications in the world.

One way to judge a publication is by the accuracy and relevancy in its content. Association business will constitute a portion of your publication but ultimately what will be of interest to breeders will be material relevant to Dexter cattle. Formatting is much like a chef that garnishes a dinner plate in that if the plate looks good it will taste good. For an editor this would be utilizing spaces wisely as to not add to the cost by being wasteful and with a font consistency in providing the proper appearance from both the printed and white spaces.

The other two excellent Dexter publications, which I’ve subscribed to for years, are the UK’s Dexter Cattle Society Bulletin and Australia's Dexter Bulletin. Australia's Dexter publication has always been top of the line and the U.K. is fortunate to have one of the longest active Dexter editors in the world, my friend Eileen Hayes. So Patrice Lewis, along with PDCA members contributions deserve a lot of the credit and the PDCA can be proud of now having one of the three best Dexter cattle publications in the world.

My copy of The Record arrived this afternoon and so depending on how long the mail takes from Missouri, hopefully your copy will arrive soon.

I have a road trip to Minnesota planned for the next couple of days, so get out and enjoy your Dexter cattle and have a great weekend.

DNA Testing

The color testing form is now available for PDCA members on the web site:

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Dual Memberships

Some have asked questions such as, can we be an officer of the Purebred Dexter Cattle Association of North America (PDCA) and still belong to another Dexter cattle association? The simple answer is "yes" because membership in another association is not a disqualification. Where there are restrictions on serving with the PDCA is where there might be a conflict of interest such as someone that may be on the Board or possibly committees of another Dexter cattle association. So unless you're serving in some official capacity with another association, membership in the ADCA or CDCA doesn't affect your serving with the PDCA.

Along these lines, registration papers from another Dexter cattle association will not guarantee that your cattle are automatically transferable to the PDCA. One of the main purposes in the founding of the PDCA was in order to protect and maintain a reliable Dexter cattle registry. So if papers from another association are inaccurate or don't have all the required information then they will have to be corrected before acceptance into the PDCA registry.

So in summary, if someone chooses to belong to every Dexter cattle association in the world, membership alone is not a problem with regards to serving in the PDCA.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Agricultural Calculators

Here's a web site that Rosemary came across that might be especially useful for the novice in calculating breeding and calving season.

Click here for calculators from the Noble Foundation.

Monday, March 07, 2005

PDCA Meets With Classifiers

Despite the snow in Pennsylvania, the classification meeting went well this past week with a recommendation for a minor point adjustment in our Dexter evaluations.

PDCA President, Wes Patton, was instrumental in the beginning development of a classification system for Dexter cattle in the U.S., which officially began in 2000.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Dexter Health

Some handy health hints from a very nice Australian web site.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Cow urine touted as cure-all in India

Lotions, potions and pills flying off shopkeepers' shelves.

A worker displays an antiseptic aftershave made of cow urine at a stall in New Delhi on Feb. 25. =>

NEW DELHI - Alongside life-size posters of Hindu nationalist leaders, Indian political activists can now buy lotions, potions and pills to cure anything from cancer to hysteria to piles — all made from cow urine or dung.

A new goratna (cow products) stall at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) souvenir shop is rapidly outselling dry political tracts, badges, flags and saffron-and-green plastic wall clocks with the face of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

“You won’t believe how quickly some of the products sold out,” says Manoj Kumar, who runs the souvenir shop along with his brother, Sanjeev, at the BJP headquarters in a plush central New Delhi neighborhood. “The constipation medicine is a hot seller.”

But the biggest seller is a “multi-utility pill” that claims to cure anything from diabetes to piles to “ladies’ diseases.”

“It’s a miraculous cure” the container declares. A month’s supply costs a little over $1.

Another cure-all is Sanjivani Ark, a liquid medicine that battles cancer, hysteria, and irregular periods, among other things.

Cow dung toothpaste?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Heather & Calves

In between running around for tractor parts today I squeezed in taking a picture of Heather with her one week old calf, along with a three month old calf that was just hanging around.

Also, the Spring 2005 PDCA Record was mailed out today.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Size and Distribution of Beef Cow Herds

The majority of beef cow herds are small. Average herd size in the U. S. is 41.6 cows. (Connecticut has the lowest at 7.5 cows/herd, Nevada the largest at 175, Texas averages 41.2) Over 78% of herds have less than 50 cows, and less than 1% have over 500 cows. However, herds of less than 50 head have only about 29% of the total cows, and herds over 500 head have almost 15 % of the cows. These distributions have not changed much over the years and, barring unforeseen drastic economic changes, probably will not.
(USDA - National Agricultural Statistics Service - Report on Livestock Operations, April, 2004)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

PDCA Advertisement

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy NEWS
March-April, 2005

PDCA - One Google